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Plenary Session 6

Community Radio In India: Kal, Aaj Aur Kal | Plenary Session 6

Imagine a country which has 18 officially-recognized languages and a total of 1652 mother tongues in a country nearly a billion strong and spread over an area of 3.2 million square kilometers -- that's India. Given its diversity and expanse, one could well understand the problems that tribal, under-privileged, or minorities face in getting their voices heard. As far as the radio is concerned, long years of official domination by the government, outdated, but existing British regulations, and the rampant commercialization of the airwaves have complicated the problem. Citizens groups and non-profit organizations in India are pushing for a wider representation on the centralized and hierarchical Indian radio network -- with some success. Court rulings have recently favored the establishment of new, local stations and campaigners from across India are underlining the importance of radio in shaping the destiny of Indian society. For decades, India's radio stations have been centralized, unable to cater to the regional diversity of India, and lacking editorial independence. The importance of community media for community empowerment and democratization is well known and voice based media are especially relevant in the Indian context, given the poor literacy levels in rural areas. Community stations serve geographic communities and communities of interest. They broadcast content that is popular and relevant to a local, specific audience which is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters. In the present media saturated times, Community Radio provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of content.

Wednesday, 23 Sept 2020 (11.00 am to 12.30 pm)

Kanchan K Malik - The learned speaker began by elaborating on the relevance and value of radio and that as much as the digital age is transforming most broadcast channels, radio is here to stay since it is often the only mode of communication within communities. Also, due to its reach remote areas will keep getting serviced by radio. And since they are some of the only ‘free’ methods of broadcasting left, since they are not typically tied up with big organizations, radio often offers vital and neutral news.

Bijo Thomas - The learned speaker began by elaborating on how his own radio station is the only one that operated out of Kerala and broadcasts its programs in the tribal language enabling all the tribals from Wayanad district to communicate with each other. He also stated that multiple individuals benefit from the news programs that the radio broadcasts and it also fosters a sense of community since it serves to combine together people of a similar cultural background irrespective of the distance involved.

Radha Shukla - The learned speaker stated that this community is an excellent medium to bring people together since its base model is not about monetary profitability but rather about safeguarding the cultural values of a society in the form of inter-communication, creating a repository of songs, keeping alive discussions on pertinent community matters and of celebrating cultural milestones with like minded individuals. This community radio also serves as a focal point to improve the community and to educate individuals of how to maintain better health and hygiene. This community is going to be as good and as strong as any net based community.

Pooja Murada - The learned speaker is of the opinion that the former speaker and she mirror each other's views. But she stated a specific example quoting a radio station only 70 Km from district Gurgaon. She spoke of how fast news on the radio travels, since as mucha s the net is faster, an individual still has to reach out to obtain news pertinent to itself. On the radio, however, news can be instantly disseminated by simply interrupting whatever broadcast is occurring to inform the individuals listening of the concerned piece of information. This was very useful when the pandemic as the speaker herself made out how fast the radio community spread the news. She also states that radio communities are a repository of culture and tradition, something that serves to ensure that unique cultures are preserved.

Sister Krishna - The learned speaker began by informing the viewers of how important community radio is for organizations such as the Brahmakumaris who use the radio to convey education, enlightenment and life lessons to the community they minister to. This usually takes the form of educating rural communities against certain social evils as well as using the radio to spread awareness for multiple issues. The radio is also important for the health broadcasts which they make through which individuals can understand their body better and move away from superstition. The radio also serves as a medium of communication between doctors and patients who can only communicate via the radio.

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